Patel among nation’s Top 100 spellers

Published 12:51 am Friday, May 31, 2019

Straughn’s Taj Patel placed in the top 100 in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second year in a row.

Although it was not the finish that he wanted, Patel said that he learned a lot.

“The overall experience was good,” Patel said. “Last year was good and this year was good as well. I think I enjoyed this year more because I knew that I made the top 100 sooner.”

For Patel to have advanced to the finals, he had to score almost perfect on the preliminaries test.

The Preliminaries Test has 26 multiple-choice items divided in four sections, with spellers identifying their responses on Scantron test forms. A speller receives one point for each of the 12 items identified correctly in the Round One Spelling section, one point for each of the 12 items identified correctly in the Round One Vocabulary section, three points for a correct answer to the single item in the Round Two Vocabulary section, and three points for a correct answer to the single item in the Round Three Vocabulary section. Spellers who score a minimum of 30 points then, and spell words correctly during the onstage rounds, make it to the finals.

“In the past few years, we did learn a few different things that I could have done differently,” Patel said. “I think I only missed two on the test and that wasn’t even enough to make it to the finals. I definitely know a couple tricks to the trade now.”

Patel said that he is completely focused on helping his little brother Dhilan make it to the finals of the national spelling bee, but when asked how he would do it, he said it was top secret.

“If everyone knew the secrets, then it would be even harder,” Patel said. “The people that made it to the finals and know the secrets wouldn’t tell anyone, but now I know and I am going to help Dhilan make it to the finals, if not win it.”

Patel’s father said that even though this is Taj’s last spelling bee, he is trying to stay positive.

“I am honestly down that I didn’t find these tips and tricks out sooner to help him,” Neil Patel said. “I just remember when he was little and was spelling different words. Now I am just trying to stay positive and now that I know all of the tips I will help Dhilan for sure. Maybe Taj will become a spelling bee coach and will help other people.”

While Patel wasn’t competing he was traveling around Washington, D.C., taking in the sights.

“We went to the National Mall and the Smithsonian,” Patel said. “We may go to Busch Gardens tomorrow, I don’t know. I know that we are going to the finals tonight and then the banquet tomorrow.”

Even though Patel was all the way in Washington D.C., he could feel the support from the Straughn community.

“This year Mrs. Anderson helped me so much with spelling,” Patel said. “She gave me permission to practice spelling during our study hours and during sixth period. They really tried to help me.”

So what will Patel do now that spelling is out of the picture? He said that he will focus on the ACT and karate.

“I will be going into high school next year so I will do a lot of studying for the ACT,” Patel said. “And I will keep focusing on karate. I have been learning how to play the piano as well so I will focus on that too.”